Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Memories...Light the Corners of Her Room....

What I have grown to enjoy most about the Year in the Life of a Christmas Tree is the wonderful reactions, inquiries and conversations it inspires. One of the biggest surprises to date is how many people have confessed ( in hushed tones ) the fact that they too still have their Christmas trees up. Many of them sadly naked in the corner of the room just waiting on a spurt of energy from someone in the house to finally pack it away. Others share that they like the warmth that the tree lights provide during the cold and dark days of winter and are not ready to let go of the holiday feelings it represents. Perhaps it has something to do with the overall sadness that so many people are feeling right now with the economy in such a state of disarray. Or maybe the tree is a reminder of simpler, happier times that many of us are wanting to wrap ourselves in.

That is why I was most delighted when my new on-line friend, Caroline Johnstone, shared the following story with me. Having enjoyed an exceptionally warm Christmas holiday she wanted to find a way to experience the feeling a bit longer and that led her to the idea of a Memory Tree. She got a large branch, attached lights and the concept is every time she celebrates something special, she finds a way to hold on to that memory with a treasured representation of the occasion with an "ornament" added to the tree branch.

Above is a photo of her memory tree as of Feb. 8th. The following items have been added to the tree so far: Champagne corks, a snoopy phone charm - A large red heart - the outside of a small chocolate box as a reminder of a fantastic party - a completed Sudoku laminated (from Glasgow Herald) - pretty little bag of bath salts, a reminder of a fabulous, amazing hot stone massage - nail varnish (as I stopped biting my nails this year) - a four leaf clover given to me by Emma last year for my birthday, one of my seven wonderful gifts, but it's allowed in this year to remind me to make my own luck and be thankful for it - And a healing crystal to symbolise the many I got as gifts to help me continue healing quickly.

I am so delighted that Caroline shared this with me and I can not wait to see what the tree looks like at the end of the year. I hope that it is completely covered...not a bare branch in sight as that would mean her year was blessed by numerous happy occasions and memories to be treasured.

I LOVE the concept and have shared it with numerous friends who also feel inspired by Caroline's story and idea. I do believe there will be a lot more Memory Trees being started and enjoyed!!! What would your tree hold?

Until next time...BE INSPIRED!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Being Open to Change

I mentioned in my last post that the V-Day tree did not turn out anything like I initially envisioned. From the very idea of what the tree would be like, I looked to one of my favorite objects as inspiration. A few years back one of my dearest friends gave me a beautiful burgundy colored, Victorian inspired Christmas stocking. So delighted by it, I couldn't bring myself to pack it away at the end of the Christmas holiday. Instead I found a spot for it in my "Macy's Powder Room" where I allow it to remain on display all year long. ( Ahhhh...the Macy's Powder Room...intrigued? I feel another blog post coming forth...but that is for another day)

My initial concept was to use the stocking as a focal point on the tree. Unfortunately, when I attempted to secure the stocking to the tree it became more of an eye sore than the visually appealing focal point I had so clearly saw in my mind's eye. So determined was I to make it work that an hour in to my project I began to resent the tree and question my desire to go any further along in this silly quest.

Walking away to allow myself some time to chill out ( okay, walking away to go pour myself a glass of wine), I returned a little while later in a more relaxed frame of mind. I resolved myself to the fact that no matter how I tried, the stocking was just not going to work and it was time to return it to it's previously loved display place. Preconceived notions behind it was time to look at what I did have available and allow the design to take shape with no boundaries or expectations. From that point on, the design process was no longer a chore, but a freeing opportunity to enjoy. Wasn't that what this whole experience was supposed to prove in the first place?

I finished up the tree in no time and stepped back to take a good look at what had come forth.

What stood before me was this beautiful tree that warmed my heart. It was nearly perfect...except it felt like it was missing something. I suddenly realized what that was...the beautiful Victorian stocking that I treasure. didn't belong on the tree, just along side it.

Now every time I look at that tree ( which is quite often) I am reminded of the possibilities that exist when we allow ourselves to be open to them and the love of a dear friend who always sees in me the endless possibilities.

Thank you Cathy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

I'm in the Mood for Love....

Simply because your near me....Funny but when you're near me....I'm in the mood for LOVE! Can not get that silly song out of my head since nearly completing the V-day tree. I am once again amazed at how a transformed tree can transform my spirits. I NEVER decorate with red. So once again the thought of having a tree accentuated in a color that I normally dislike was less than inspiring to me. Perhaps that is why I found myself dragging my feet initially to get it done. Now that it is nearly complete...I find myself enchanted by it. It just "feels good" to look at it.

It did not come out the way I originally envisioned it. I think that's one of the reasons I have always enjoyed the process of decorating a Christmas tree. You can have something in mind, but when hands meet design, the best laid plans can quickly change. That's just the process of creativity and design. When we can't allow it to just flow, and attempt to force something, the results are less than perfect and natural. This also comes from my former experience as a home decorator. It's a person's inability to think out of the box or lack of confidence in their skills that results in rooms that never "feel" as good as they should. Good design is something you see and feel. When both are in sync the results are dynamic. It's the room you WANT to come home to.

That's exactly how I am feeling about the tree. It's something I want to come home to as every time I see it, I feel something different.

It's nearly done. I will explain more about the changes in the design in a later blog, but for now my only disappointment is in not being able to find the right topper. Apparently I share this disappointment with many others but on a somewhat different level. I posted a status update on Face Book the other day questioning how difficult it was to find Cupid. I guess I should have been more clear in my desire because the immediate reactions I got from some lady friends took me off guard. I quickly realized that LOTS of women are in search of Cupid and based on their comments he is obviously an elusive fellow. I had to offer a better explanation of my needs by explaining I was looking for the one dimensional man who did his job and quietly sat in the corner...LOL...ONCE again this is exactly the man they were searching for as well. So Cupid...take this as a warning, you are a WANTED MAN!

Hoping we all find our Cupids to fulfill whatever the desired need is...until next time....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Masks and Memories

I got a late start yesterday on attempting to get the new V-Day decorations on the tree. I had my husband's birthday celebration dinner started on the stove by 10 a.m. I was up the night before until 1:30 in the morning getting his Red Velvet Cheesecake baked. I knew the idea of attempting to have the V-Day tree finished in time for his birthday gathering was not a realistic idea, but what's reality got to do with anything? It's February and I have a Christmas tree standing in my dining room.

I got as far as having all the Mardi Gras decorations removed and sorted out to be packed away when my children all appeared. Oldest son home from work, oldest daughter visiting for her Dad's party and youngest son home from school. Just for fun, I told them I would like to get a photo of them with the Mardi Gras masks on before I packed them away. Was I shocked when they said they would actually participate.

In a matter of minutes however, the silliness truly broke out and although I was looking at the faces of two grown adults and a 15 year old, I was suddenly transported in time to when they were all young children. The older two were about 9 and 8 year's old when the baby arrived in late November. I thought it would be fun to make them matching outfits, snap a photo and introduce our newest family member in our Christmas cards. This launched what would be a very long tradition of the children's yearly holiday picture minus the matching attire. Back before the amazing world of digital photos, I would gather the them in some type of pose, snap off 24 photos and run to the one hour film developing place. I would hold my breath in hopes of just one of those 24 being an acceptable photo. Who's eye's were closed, who was making bunny ears...who had just poked his or her sibling??? I would eventually laugh as I enclosed the final product in the year's Christmas card, but believe me, during the photo taking process it was anything but a laughing matter. One moment I was a crazed Mother yelling and seconds later I was saying...SMILE! To finally see their angelic faces captured on Kodak paper was miraculous. I was always grateful they were still photos and not videos, yet now that they are grown, I would welcome the opportunity to hit the play button and rewind the years.

Last night I was able to do just that. All it took was a view through a camera lens and I was looking at 3 "children" who still know how to push my buttons. I snapped a few photos, looked at the results and suddenly realized my oldest son had his mask on upside down. Sensing my irritation it was all they needed to bust out in to laughter. If only you could see the smile on my face right now...

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Party's Over....

Happy February Everyone! Guess you know what that means. Another month, another Christmas tree re-do. Yes...I know...Mardi Gras is actually much later this year and in fact, it doesn't occur until after V-Day...but I was an overachiever this year and hey...I still have a Christmas tree standing in my dining room...does it appear I consult the calendar??? : )

I was really feeling a bit down this morning knowing that I HAVE to get busy removing the festive masks and shiny beads that have lifted my spirits more times than I can say during the dark and gloomy month of January. It amazes me a tree I at first was so hesitant to create and feared I would hate, due to the use of some of my least favorite colors, has become so endearing to me. I haven't a clue how many times I have caught myself lost in thought just embracing its uniqueness and pageantry.

Today while making a quick run to the store, I actually found some twinkling red lights. I have never had a tree with red lights on it. In fact, although my Christmas tree designs have run the gamut over the past several years, I remain a traditionalist when it comes to the lighting. The lights are ALWAYS white and I do not allow them to flash. Armed with those red lights I found myself energized and once again excited about the possibilities. So excited by my purchase, I forgot the real reason I went in to the store...a topper for the tree. Oh well...just another excuse to shop one more day before getting to work.

I am hoping to get the tree done tomorrow which will be a big task considering it is my husband's birthday and I have already committed myself to creating one of his all time favorite dinners. Still...the thought of having a tree covered in hearts and pretty red lights seems extra special thinking it would light his birthday. Hey...maybe I can get him to stand extra close so we can find if he sees his shadow...yes, I know, bad Ground Hog's Day joke. After ummmm...well...A LOT of birthdays...believe me, he's heard them all. If I am successful, perhaps I can place his birthday gift under the tree. I can guarantee you he's never had to get his birthday gift under a Christmas tree before.
Wish me luck...and STAY photos soon.